The late Howard I. Chapelle, a former Smithsonian Curator, knew more about American Sailing vessels than anybody ever has or will. Of the six or seven offerings He presented on the subject of American Sail, all of which are long acknowledged classics, it is this one which has most interested me.
The growth and development of the United States Navy is often approached through the personalities or through the combat actions of the fleet but rarely had anyone delved into the intricacies and details of the ships themselves. This approach has become considerably more common today but it all began with, and nearly all of today?s efforts and knowledge base can be directly attributed, to Howard I. Chapelle.
In A History of the American Sailing Navy the reader is treated from the outset like the expert he is about to become. The information is detailed and complete and is filled with a copious amount of pictures and plans (Chapelle's own line drawings of Ships of the Line, Frigates, Sloops of War, Brigs, Schooners and Gunboats) which serve to make the history of these long gone warships as immediate and as real as anything you will encounter in your modern world. This is a living history and a tribute to the designers, builders and ships which stood in the gap and protected America's interests on distant stations around the globe during the formative years of the Revolution, Early Republic and Anti-Bellum Years.
If you are interested in American Naval History or history in a general sense, you will come to cherish this book in the same manor as a family bible or a photo album of your children's baby pictures. It is quite simply the best book on the subject that has been (or likely ever will be) written. My apologies to the wonderful and brilliant author Donald L. Canney who, in his book Sailing Warships of the U.S. Navy, tried in vain to better The History of the American Sailing Navy but failed.. Since you can not fix that which is not broken and you can't make something that is perfect better...Mr. Canney's efforts fell short! A+ for Chapelle. B+ for Canney (who is usually an A or A+ level author). This said I own and appreciate both of these aforementioned books.